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Brexit: What’s Next?

Brexit and ETIASOn June 23rd of 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU). The separation is known as Brexit, named for Britain's exit from the EU. The EU and the United Kingdom have agreed to a transition process of 21 months -- from 29 March 2019 until the end of 2020 -- before the country leaves the member bloc completely.

Prime Minister Theresa May postponed a December 11th vote to pass "the deal" that the UK and EU have negotiated, and it comes in two parts: a 585-page withdrawal agreement and a declaration for future relations. That vote is now scheduled to happen no later than January 21st, 2019. A lot depends upon that vote: it will either be "deal" or "no deal." If the deal isn't passed, Brexit will be a more difficult pill to swallow for both UK citizens and U.S. tourists.

The good news is the exchange rate - Americans can expect their dollar to go further while visiting the UK. When the original vote to exit occurred in 2016, the pound dropped to an all-time low. Currently, a pound is worth $1.26 in U.S. currency, and the UK expects a tourist boom over the 2018 holiday season.

In addition to the exchange rate fluctuating, American travelers may want to keep their eyes on a few other things:

  • Airline Transportation
    Since 1997, airlines operating within the EU have had an "open skies" policy, meaning they could fly between any two points in Europe. This led the way for no-frills airlines to get in the game. Many flights were discounted and new routes added. Brexit may require airlines to comply with a whole new set of rules, and the "open skies" policy may become history. If that happens, ticket prices could increase. For now, however, it's a very affordable time to travel to the UK.

  • Customs
    The reality is, lines may get longer, and wait times will follow right along. Pre-Brexit, EU citizens have had a separate line in customs than non-EU citizens. With Britain leaving the EU, everyone will be in one line, which might increase wait times in customs.

  • Visa Requirements
    Currently for U.S. travelers, a visa is not required to get into the UK if you're staying for 90 days or less, and your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay. This is not expected to change, but answers are unclear until negotiations between European Parliament and the UK are final.

British citizens, however, may not retain their visa-free rights within the Schengen Travel Zone. Those whose country of citizenship is the UK may, in fact, have to apply for an ETIAS or a visa depending upon their travel purposes and length of stay. The UK is not part of the Schengen Area, but that was true before the Brexit vote in June of 2016.

For now, what's next for Brexit is anybody's best guess. The British Commons has to vote on the negotiated deal between the UK and European Parliament. Until then, it's business as usual for all travelers.